“Lying down” photo collection explores real Hanoi

A little girl in black dress lies face up over a pile of rubbles and stones, near her are a section of concrete pipe and a gigantic earth remover. Brand new high-rises and the typical gloomy Hanoi sky silently narrate the recent real estate boom in this emerging economy.

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This is one of the 31 photos in “lying down”, an photography collection made by American cinematographer Jamie Maxtone-Graham. It features his eight-year-old daughter lying on construction field, waste land, deserted school yard and busy roads in Hanoi.

Maxtone-Graham said the initial idea came to him when he saw his wife– a Vietnamese artist–lying on the beach during a holiday. “ I was struck my the vulnerability and passivity of people lying down”. He said.

He then spent three months with his daughter in creating the series. “ it is not always easy for a little girl to lie down in public”, said the artist, “I am proud of my daughter.”

“I chose the most ordinary scenes,” explained Maxtone-Graham, “ the most intimate and explicit locations that is very Hanoian to me and my family.”

“I try to avoid dogmatism, so there is not a certain theme in my work, I believe everyone would have their own understanding”. He added.

But the photographer’s intention to talk beyond the scenes is obvious.

In one photo the girl lies at the entrance of an apartment building: “Plain banality, the absolutely boring facade of modern architecture with the added statement of ‘Apartment Building’ in case you are not clear.” Said the artist.

In another photo the girl was lying on a patch of bald field: “the lands became corrupted as the people living in the neighborhood took them for farming”, said Maxtone-Graham.

The photos are exhibited at Japan Foundation in Hanoi, Vietnam.


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